Among the goals of transhumanism is the enhancement of the human body to a point that is advanced comfortably beyond the normal human mortal state. The majority of transhumans strive for potential immortality, meaning biologically eternal youth, health and wholeness in a sustained beneficial social setting. As technologies advance, transhumans expect advanced computation to help predict and manage dangers that could interrupt the needed sustainability. Transhumans strive towards the creation of internal devices able to constantly detect and correct health problems. When these conditions are met, severe injuries and diseases are correctable and death will be rare.
Transhumanists study existential risks (characterized by features that render normal risk management ineffective) and globally endurable risks of all kinds that could prevent humankind from achieving this great goal. Overcoming any problem starts with knowledge of its existence and complexities – and today we are far more aware of potential internal and external dangers than ever before.
The minefield of looming threats generate a greater sense of urgency. Acidifying oceans, collapsing economies, widely spreading high-level nuclear wastes, pandemics, and the potential for serious asteroid impacts to the Earth are among many external threats humanity must contend with. An extended human life span in good health allows more time for individuals and constructive groups to address global threats and positively contribute to society.
What Can We Do?
And What Scientific Evidence Supports the Solution Presented Here?
The past 50 years are characterized by paradigm-shifting discoveries and other fantastic scientific advances. Researchers have spawned an array of theories of why people age, and anti-aging science has settled into general public acceptance. This area of science is steadily moving towards reversing aging when necessary. Nature makes the anti-aging and reverse aging quests a bit easier by presenting examples of potentially immortal animals. One way to do research is to probe their secrets.
One means to a youthful state is the maintenance of optimal telomere length. The enzyme telomerase repairs the long repetitive DNA sequence sections (called telomeres) capping the ends of our chromosomes. Telomeres shorten as cells divide, until biological aging leads to critically shortened telomeres that signal our demise. Telomeres can be considered a body clock that can tick forward or be reset backwards, so as to help extend lifespan.
By 1997, Dr Bill Andrews and his team created potentially immortal human skin cells (by inducing the telomere related gene hTERT). Their work showed that, in principle, mortal human tissue can be made biologically immortal when telomeres are optimally elongated via genetic tweaking. Telomere research led to the now famous 2010 Harvard experiment, wherein the team was astonished to find that restoring telomere length in elderly mice reversed all signs of aging. The team only expected to slow aging down some. But shriveled organs regrew to their normal size, so that even shrunken mouse brains grew normal again. Mouse fur grew shiny with its color restored, and the mice regained full energy and the ability to reproduce offspring.
Lobsters may naturally maintain proper telomere length, as telomerase is expressed in adults through most of their tissue. Research suggests that lobsters do not decline physically with age, and that they may even become more fertile as they grow chronologically older.
In 2012, Dr. María Blasco, of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, injected mice with one shot of telomerase. She used viral blanks (copies of a virus with its DNA removed) as the carrier in the injected serum, so as to get the telomerase to enter mouse body cells. Owing to the DNA removal, there was no risk whatsoever of infecting the mice with a harmful virus. Elderly mice lived up to 13% longer with just one injection. Adult mice lived 24% longer with one injection. None showed signs of cancer from their telomerase increase.
By 2013, the general scientific consensus was that critical telomere shortening is likely the cause of age-related diseases. This may translate into lengthening shortened telomeres as a means of overcoming several underlying causes of aging and death.
Seeing little in the way of human telomere extension since the 2010 Harvard achievement may not seem like exponential scientific progress. Sometimes a bottleneck prevents rapid progress. Scientists are cautious about human trials because telomerase is what makes cancer cells potentially immortal. Some researchers argue that lengthening telomeres will help protect cells from cancer, given that shortened telomeres lead to disease states including cancer. Besides, cancer cells make their own telomerase instead of borrowing from healthy cells. Moreover, a healthy body is better able to overcome diseases.
In June of 2014, a medical team from San Francisco announced their findings of a significantly greater risk of a rare, fatal brain cancer in people with longer telomeres. The researchers attribute this to two telomere-related genes, TERT and TERC, which occur in the genetic profiles of a great many people. These two genes are also implicated in several other types of cancer.
The immortal hydra is a freshwater polyp measuring a few millimeters long. It maintains optimal telomere length, and the FoxO gene is thought to be responsible. FoxO critically regulates stem cell maintenance. When researchers reduce the activity of the FoxO gene in a hydra population, the hydra begin to age. FoxO is also active in other animals and pronounced in centenarian people, and so some researchers suspect FoxO accounts for a longer human life span. But treating humans with FoxO requires genetic experimentation, while maintaining a complex genetic balancing act that is not adequately understood. Experimentation would present medical liabilities that hinder such research in humans.
The planarian flatworm appears to be ageless. It maintains optical telomere length. Some researchers attribute the endless rejuvenation to a type of worm stem cell called neoblasts, which are the worms’ only cell type capable of division. Neoblasts are involved in their ability to regrow lost body parts, so that if a flatworm is cut in half it will regrow into two worms. A team from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and MIT regenerated an entire worm from a single cell. Neoblasts are similar to human embryonic stem cells in that the latter can transform into almost any type of body cell. Embryonic stem cells and cancer cells share the ability to self-renew. So, years of study are required to resolve any concern that embryonic stem cell treatment will not produce a starting point for some types of cancer if the stem cells become altered or damaged, which can easily happen in our polluted world.
Managing the Balancing Act:
How do we manage the balancing act so as to enjoy a youthful, cancer-free life as we grow chronologically old? Nanotech systems and machine intelligence are among hopeful key accelerating technologies that can someday bring this dream to fruition. Nanotech milestones led to a cancer treating nanobot patent in 2013. The tiny device is capable of spraying an anti-cancer drug where it detects an internal solid cancer. It is powered by a genetically-modified bacteria. At three micrometers, it is still classified as a nanobot. The device only works on solid tumors, has no built-in intelligence, and human testing is years away at best (progress depends on funding and getting through red tape, etc.). This and many other impressive developments have a long way to go before we can expect a nano-sized (or lower micron-sized) robot to be highly-intelligent, highly-functional and affordable.
We have considered two main points of technological congestion to overcome in order to approach the state of potential immortality that some creatures naturally enjoy: lengthening our telomeres while preventing cancers. Those who have read this far may have also read previous posts on this project at Transhumanity.net, and so have the needed background information to appreciate the concluding points of this article:
In sum, the above link seeks volunteers to help speed up our stated goals. The first step described (in a longer program that advances transhuman goals) is to create a micron-sized DMF-based optical computer chip. Optical computing is a superior form of quantum computing that can power a microbot brain, so that it is capable of performing highly-intelligent, sophisticated work. What largely holds today’s microbots and nanobots back is their lack of built-in intelligence and agility, but these factors can be corrected when using DMF. The prototype for the DMF (diamond microcircuitry film) electronics network for this project already exists, and so the next task is to redesign it into a computer chip that operates on guided light.
The link immediately above discusses the superiority of optical (light-based) quantum computing compared to conventional quantum computing, in terms of financial and technological feasibility and size. Assuming we can muster the voluntarism to raise the funds to hire the experts needed to manufacture the first DMF chip, another step will be to try to recreate such a chip at an even smaller size. This goal appears to be feasible because DMF is made with a proton beam (the beam converts internal regions of synthetic diamond to graphite, so as to conduct electricity and guide light). Protons measure in the femto-scale (below the nano-scale), and so there is significant design space at the nano-scale.
Using the smallest proton beam possible will result in the smallest DMF optical computer chip. The nanobots that follow will themselves be made with DMF smooth to the nano-scale, so that they do not insult tissue. Diamond is also tissue compatible, and so will not cause an immune reaction when traversing the body or implanted in a stationary position.
A Quantum Leap:
Achieving these steps will result in a quantum leap forward. The achievement can lead to a situation wherein people receive periodic telomerase injections, similar to the injections in the above-mentioned study but using a series of injections as needed. Unlike traditional large needles, micro-needle arrays are essentially painless and can be used at home. There are other ways to promote telomerase within the body, but injections or sublingual supplements may be the surest, most convenient way to deliver sufficient doses of telomerase for the near future. With human body cells up-taking telomerase, super-smart DMF nanobots constantly traverse the body looking for cancers. Among a number of other techniques that might be used, nanobots cling to and crimp the blood supplies that feed cancers. Once blood flow is no longer available, cancers atrophy and the body naturally carries them away as waste. Assuming cancer is not already present in the body, it never gets a chance to grow to any meaningful size in the first place due to patrolling nanobots.
We have considered that the kind of system needed to achieve perpetual youth is largely within our technological grasp. Even if science were to offer a way to lengthen telomeres while preventing cancer today, we would still need intelligent, agile patrolling nanobots able to detect and correct internal problems that arise sooner or later. If a full understanding of aging is required to create biological immortality, then the power of quantum computing working within the body can allow the complete elucidation of health mechanisms at the molecular level. A full understanding of human physiology is possible with the power of quantum computing traversing the body, and this kind of system is needed to take people to the transhuman era when we will have far more control of our physiology. We are, therefore, poised to grasp the golden ring.
We need you:
It requires volunteerism to move this project, hosted by Transhumanity.net, forward. It is being sponsored by sales from the ebook version of ‘Moon Base and Beyond,’ which furthers other transhuman goals, too. See the ‘Moon Base and Beyond’ sales page and professional reviews at the following link:
$10.00 per ebook sold is dedicated to funding this project. It will require 50,000 copies sold to raise $500,000. for configuring the first micron-sized optical DMF computer chip and further the goals stated in this article as far as possible with the funds raised.
Quantum-brained nanobots traversing the human body will be a spectacular achievement – and is not otherwise on the technological horizon for several decades. DMF presents a means for humankind to fast-track this goal.
How to get involved:
Vigorously post links to this article.
Email this article to others.
Help build our sponsorship fund by vigorously posting the ebook sales page link, purchasing the ebook or copies for friends, and encouraging others to do the same.
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Volunteer individually and/or help form project teams. Contact us.
The promise is tremendous, but we cannot progress alone.
Image credit: The image used is from: http://singularityhub.com/2010/06/07/the-art-of-transhumanism/